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My Christmas Recs – Books and Movies

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year! It’s the end of something, but it’s also bringing a new beginning. And this year, I think we are all ready for a new beginning.

Every year, I pull out my favorite Christmas books and movies, and set aside time to read and watch them as part of my own personal Christmas celebration.

Favorite Christmas Books

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Although this is not strictly a Christmas book, it’s opening scene takes place at Christmas, and the whole book gives you cozy Christmas-like vibes. When I have the time, I like to do a reread (or listen to the audiobook) of this classic.
  2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Speaking of classics, this one is a must read for every Dickens fan or any fan of Christmas. And truthfully, this is my favorite Dickens book.
  3. The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand. This is a YA retelling of A Christmas Carol and it is so good! Once I finished reading it the first time, I knew it was going to be a yearly reread.
  4. Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. I know this one is a children’s picture book, but there is just something so magical about the rhyming prose. I have loved this one for as long as I can remember.
  5. Everything I Need to Know About Christmas, I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow. There’s a whole series of these humorous books, that just happen to look like Little Golden Books themselves. And I may be giving away my age a little here, but as a kid, I loved Little Golden Books.

And of course, I always find some new books that I want to read, so here are my most anticipated reads for this Christmas:

  1. In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren. I’ve heard so much about this book, and seen it all over the place, so it’s at the top of my TBR pile. 🙂
  2. Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne. While not specifically Christmas, this book is touted to still have all the cozy Christmas vibes, so I’m pschyed to read it.
  3. The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody. Written by the author of Save the Cat Writes a Novel (find out more about this awesome book here), this one has been on my TBR pile for a bit. After rereading the book’s blurb, I decided I wanted to read it this year. This one is set on New Year’s Day.
  4. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. This is a Nutcracker retelling and was on my Christmas TBR list last year, but I didn’t get to it, so it’s near the top of my list this year.

Favorite Christmas Movies

  1. A Mom for Christmas. This is an old favorite from childhood. It originally aired on TV as a Hallmark movie, and my grandparents taped it on a VHS tape for all the grandkids to watch at Christmas. (My grandfather loved doing this – taping movies and having them ready for us to watch either at Christmas or during the summer when we come and stay awhile.) Bonus: Olivia Newton John plays the wished for “mom”.
  2. Mickey’s and the Muppets Christmas Carol Movies. These are another couple childhood favorites that I always try to make time to watch each year.
  3. Elf. You knew this was going to be on here. 🙂 I don’t always like the slapsticky comedy, but this one has its own sort of charm. Maybe it’s the Christmas setting that makes it such fun.
  4. Season of Miracles. This is another Hallmark movie, but it’s a throwback one, so it has a slightly more complicated plot than girl finding the perfect man.
  5. While You Were Sleeping. Not only is this one of my Christmas favorites, it’s one of my favorite Sandra Bullock movies and I’m willing to watch it anytime of the year.

Movies on Netflix/other worth a watch

  1. Holiday in the Wild – Set in Africa, the beautiful scenery itself makes this worth a watch, but it also has a good storyline too.
  2. Christmas Chronicles – So cute! This is a fun Santa story.
  3. The Knight Before Christmas – So this one might be a little cheesy, but I really enjoyed it!
  4. Noelle (Disney+) – This is another fun Santa story, with a twist.
  5. Godmothered (Disney+) – This one is new this year and is so fun! Perfect for a family movie night.
  6. The March Sisters at Christmas (Hulu, possibly available other places too.) A modern day retelling of Little Women, with a Christmasy theme.

And of course there are a few I’m highly anticipating, but have not watched yet:

  1. Christmas Chronicles 2 (Netflix)- The first one was great, so of course I want to see this one too.
  2. Jingle Jangle (Netflix)- I’ve heard a lot of great things about this one.
  3. Operation Christmas Drop (Netflix) – The preview for this movie caught my eye and so it’s also on my watchlist.

What books are you reading this holiday season? What movies are you watching? Let me know in the comments!

Book Tags

Little Women Blog Tag

As a fun way to end our read along of Little Women, I decided to host a blog tag. All you have to do is answer the questions and post them on your blog. If you missed the details about the read along, you can check them out here.

Even if you didn’t participate in the read along this month, you can still do the blog tag. Also, I’m going to extend the giveaway for another two weeks so that everyone who participates in the blog tag will also have a chance to win the giveaway prize featured below: a pair of Little Women writing gloves from Storiarts, and  a copy of Little Women as it was featured in the new movie.

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So here are the Little Women blog tag questions:

  1. Which character do you relate to the most and why?
  2. Which scene do you like best and why?
  3. What is your favorite quote from the book?
  4. Which movie version is your favorite and why?
  5. Who is your favorite couple in the book?
  6. What is your favorite thing about the book?

I’ll share my answers in a separate post tomorrow. 🙂

Once you’ve posted your answers, you can add the link to your blog here and you can check out everyone else’s answers too! 🙂

Reading Challenge

Little Women Challenge

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If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you know how much the novel Little Women has influenced my life and my writing career. I just saw the new movie, and I loved it. Since my birthday is coming up this next month, I decided it’s the perfect time to celebrate with a challenge all about Little Women.

There will be three components to this challenge and a giveaway at the end. The first component is a read along through the novel, the second is a photo challenge (you can post on all social media sites with #littlewomencrbdaycelebration), and the third one is a movie watching challenge. There have been so many movies made, and I’d love to know which adaptation is your favorite. I’ve seen most of them, but am always willing to watch them again.

Book Read Along:

  1. Chapters 1-12 (Feb. 1- 8)
  2. Chapters 13-24 (Feb. 9-15)
  3. Chapters 25-36 (Feb. 16-22)
  4. Chapters 37-47 (Feb. 23-29)

Movie Watching:

  1.  1933 version with Katherine Hepburn
  2. 1949 version, Elizabeth Taylor wears a blonde wig and plays Amy
  3. 1978 two part TV version
  4. 1994 version, the one I grew up watching
  5. 2018 Masterpiece Theater three part series
  6. 2018 modern retelling movie
  7. 2019 Little Women

Since there are so many versions, you may not have time to watch all of them during the month, but try to choose at least four (one a week) of them to watch.

Photo Challenge:

  1. Favorite/your edition of Little Women.
  2. Favorite movie version of Little Women.
  3. Selfie reading Little Women
  4. Favorite character in Little Women
  5. Bonus post: Little Women merch
  6. Bonus post: All your copies of Little Women
  7. Bonus post:Little Women retelling

I’ve made some graphics for each part, which you can share across social media and on your blogs.

Here’s a link to my Goodreads list of Little Women retellings: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/43870902-charity-rau?shelf=little-women-inspired

Giveaway: At the end of the month, I’ll draw a name to receive a prize package containing a collectible edition of Little Women along with the Little Women writing gloves (from Storiarts, pictured in photo at the top of the post), and maybe some other goodies. Each blog comment below and each social media post with the #littlewomencrbdaycelebration will count as one entry into the drawing. (If winner is from outside of USA or Canada, you’ll receive prize value on a Amazon gift card.)

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday – Characters that Remind Me of Myself

 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Girl. To find out more about the top ten theme, or to join in the fun go here.

relatable characters

I haven’t done a Top Ten Tuesday in awhile, and this was such a fun topic, I had do it even though it’s going up so late in the day. So here are the characters that I relate with in some way:

1. Lost in a Book – Belle. Belle’s curiosity reminds me of my own. I would’ve totally gone in the west wing of the castle to see what the Beast was hiding. In this book, Belle enters a book world, another place I would go to see what was there. I’ve also always identified with the “there must be something more” feeling.

2. Little Women – Jo. One of my first ever bookish heroines, I identified with Jo’s tomboy spirit, and I always had long, long hair. I would hardly let my mother even trim it. I may have finally cut my hair a little shorter, but I still identify with Jo’s dream of becoming a writer.

3. The Lunar Chronicles – Cress. I’m little, and even now that I’m grown, people still think I’m younger than I really am (which I like now 🙂 ). I also get anxious around big groups of people I don’t know, and would prefer to stay home. I do well with computers, not on a hacker level or anything, but I am my family’s go-to tech person.

4. Secrets Can Kill (Nancy Drew Files) – Nancy Drew. I couldn’t leave Nancy off the list. I lived in a small Illinois town (just like Nancy) when I flew through all the Nancy Drew files. Also, I’ve always had a thing for mysteries and true crime. I love solving the mystery before the book is over and I’m rarely ever wrong or unable to do so. I know it’s a clever mystery if I haven’t figured out who the baddie by the time I’m halfway through the book.

5. Pretty Little Liars – Aria. I enjoyed this series and the tv show. I relate most to Aria, because she is the creative one – she enjoys photography, art, writing ect. (In the tv show, she’s also the littlest one.)

6. Wendy Darling Series – Wendy. This series is so good, and I think one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much was because I really connected with Wendy. I’m the oldest of four, so I totally understand the need to protect and care for younger siblings. She loved to read and was interested in always learning more.

7. Worlds of Ink and Shadow – Charlotte. This is a fictionalized story of the Brontes. I related to Charlotte, as the oldest sister. Her father was a minister, my father is also a minister. Her family didn’t have a lot growing up, but her and her siblings created their own worlds to entertain themselves. That is much how it was growing up was for me too. We didn’t have much, but we did have our imaginations and we ran wild with them. If you love Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte, you need to read this book.

8. Before She Ignites – Mira. Mira loves animals, and even had her own dragon! Who wouldn’t want a dragon? Also, she experiences a lot of anxiety.

And in a throwback:

9. The Saddle Club – Stevie.  Stevie was the one I most related to in the Saddle Club series. She was a little disorganized and a bit of a tomboy, and of course, loved horses.

10. The Babysitters Club – Claudia. Claudia loved junk food and had long hair she always styled different ways. She also loved Nancy Drew. 🙂

 

What book characters do you most relate to and why? Let me know in the comments.

Book Tags

Chocolate Book Tag

chocolate book tag

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I decided it was the perfect time to do the chocolate book tag. I’ve seen this floating around on a few different book blogs and though it looked liked fun, so here are my picks:

1. Dark chocolate: A book with dark content/theme – Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is the origin story of the Red Queen. She didn’t just decided to chop off heads – so many things happened to her to make her that way. This is a must read if you love villain stories.

2. White chocolate: A light-hearted, humorous read – From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon. This is such a fun, uplifting read, and it made my top ten reads of 2018!

3. Milk chocolate: A hyped/popular book you really want to read – The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine. I love Redwine’s books, and I’ve heard so many great things about this book. It comes out later this month. It’s a retelling of Cinderella, one of my favorite fairy tales!

4. Chocolate with a Caramel Centre: A book that made you feel gooey on the inside – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.  This was another fun read, and the relationship between Lara Jean and Peter was adorable.

5. A wafer-free kit-kat: a book that surprised you – To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This is a Little Mermaid retelling, so I was immediately interested in it. Before I had a chance to read the book, I saw some negative reviews, so I lowered my expectations and hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed. I needn’t have worried.  I could hardly put the book down. (Just FYI: it is a darker retelling, so that may be why some people gave it a lower rating.)

6. A Snickers Bar: a book you’re going nuts about – Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco. I love this series for so many reasons – it’s set in the Victorian era, it’s a suspense series, and the romance between Audrey and Thomas is superb. Each book gets better and better and I can hardly wait for the final book which comes out later this year.

7. Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows: a comfort read you turn to time and time again – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I recently read the edition I had read so many times as a child, and  I still love it just as much as I did back then. The family dynamic reminds me a bit of mine own, and I can relate to so many of the experiences Jo,Meg, Beth, and Amy have.

 8. A box of chocolates: a series that has a lot of things readers will like – The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. If you’ve been following my blog long, you know I’ve recommended these books over and over. They are just so good! The world building is magical, the characters are dynamic and the settings are memorable. Even if you think you not into the whole space thing, you may be surprised to find you still like these books.

What about you? What books would you pick for these chocolates?

Reading Challenge, The Great American Read

PBS’s The Great American Read

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So if you saw my post about the National Book Festival, then you know I found out all about the Great American Read there. I had heard of it before, but didn’t really know what it was, and I can’t believe it took me this long to check it out.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, you’re going to want to check it out: https://www.pbs.org/the-great-american-read/home/

PBS hosts the event. The first show aired in May, and there will be seven more shows starting on Septemeber 11th. PBS created a list of the top 100 books Americans love after conducting surveys.

There are so many great books on the list! Some I’ve read, some are on my TBR list, and a few were books I’d never heard of.  Each day until the end of October, you can cast one vote for your favorite book(s).

If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram, then you’ve may have guessed my first vote went to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This book has been a great inspiration in my life, so I had to cast my first vote for this novel. But there are a few other books I’ll have to vote for too – The Outsiders, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables, Harry Potter, Frankenstein, and Charlotte’s Web – to name a few.

Also, since I’ve only read 30 of the 100 books, I’m planning to read several more before the finale airs. I’m starting with books in the YA genre since that’s my favored genre, both to read and write.

Here are the books I’m starting with:

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Hachet by Gary Paulsen

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

What about you? Are you participating in the Great Read? What book(s) are you voting for? Are you reading any books from the 100? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday Favorite Book Quotes

Today, I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I love this idea. It’s such a great way to connect with other book nerds, so I’m going to try to participate most weeks. 🙂 Today’s theme is book quotes.

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At first, I wasn’t sure how many book quotes I knew, but after some research I realized I knew more than I thought. I included quotes from some classics and some from favorite recent reads. Hope you enjoy!

1. “I want to do something splendid…something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it and mean to astonish you all someday.”
― Louisa May Alcott, Little Women                                                                                                    (This speech Jo gives about her dreams is one of the reasons I love her so much, and I had to include something from Little Women since it’s been such a longtime favorite.)

2. “I promise, I will not let you die without being kissed.”
― Marissa Meyer, Cress                                                                                                                          (Cress and Thorne are my favorite couple from The Lunar Chronicles.)

3. “As the poets say, stories are truth told through lies.”
― Jessica Khoury, The Forbidden Wish

4. “I am confident, I am capable, and I will not wait to be rescued by a woodsman or a hunter.”
― Jackson Pearce, Sisters Red

5. “I said: “He cannot be so bad if he loves roses so much.”
“But he is a Beast,” said Father helplessly.
I saw that he was weakening, and wishing only to comfort him I said, “Cannot a Beast be tamed?”
― Robin McKinley, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

6. “Mirrors only show us what we are. Books show us what we can be.”
― Jennifer Donnelly, Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book                                                         (I loved this book and it’s so quotable, I had to include a few from it.)

7. “Isn’t that what a good story does? It pulls you in and never lets you go.”
― Jennifer Donnelly,  Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book

8. “Reading became my sanctuary,” Belle continued. “I found so much in those books. I found histories that inspired me. Poems that delighted me. Novels that challenged me…” Belle paused, suddenly self-conscious. She looked down at her hands, and in a wistful voice, said, “What I really found, though, was myself.”
― Jennifer Donnelly, Beauty and The Beast: Lost in a Book

9. “Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”
― Kerri Maniscalco, Stalking Jack the Ripper

10. “For there are no limits to the stars, their numbers infinite. Which is precisely why I measure my love for you by the stars. An amount too boundless to count.”
― Kerri Maniscalco, Hunting Prince Dracula

 

What are some of your favorite book quotes? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Book Reviews

Some Favorite Reads

One question I am often asked, “What is your favorite book?” For an avid reader, that is a difficult question to answer. There are so many wonderful books, that it is hard to choose just one or even two or three. After thinking about this for awhile, I finally chose five books that are not necessarily my only favorites, but are books that impacted me in some way. So here they are:

  1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I already talked about this book once in my “Why I Write” post here. This book was one of the first classics I ever read and is partially responsible for inspiring me to become a writer.
  2. Sinister Paradise by Carolyn Keene. This is a Nancy Drew Files mystery, a series which was written after the original mystery books. I enjoyed the original series as well, but the Files upped the game by involving murder and more romance. Nancy was also older. I could have picked any of these books, because I loved all of the Nancy Drew books, although I distinctly remember this book because it was one of the books that I owned, and thus read a few times. My love of mystery novels came from reading so many Nancy Drew books, and I always tried to figure out who the killer was before Nancy.
  3. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. I was actually in college before I read this children’s classic, but it had such heart and wild horses, that I instantly loved it. In fact, once I read it, I knew I had to visit the islands (Chincoteague and Assateague) where the story takes place. The islands were so beautiful, that I had my wedding on the beach of Assateague.
  4. Vinegar Boy by Alberta Hawse. This is a story about the boy who brings vinegar to Jesus at his crucifixion, and his life is changed forever by the events he sees. It was a touching story, one I could not put down, and it was the first book I remember that made me cry.
  5. Beauty by Robin McKinley. This was the first fairytale retelling I ever read. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it captivated me and began my love of fairytale retellings. It’s a magical story that takes you to another time and place.

Hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite books. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite from the list!